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LEICESTER CITY 2
(Vardy 32, Morgan 52)
SWANSEA CITY 1
Jamie Vardy’s first goal of the season set Leicester on their way to the first victory of their Premier League title defence as Swansea were beaten at the King Power Stadium.
Vardy, the champions’ leading scorer last season with 24 goals, got off the mark for the new campaign in typical fashion by emphatically finishing a lovely Leicester move.
Wes Morgan doubled the lead early in the second half before Riyad Mahrez saw a penalty saved by Lukasz Fabianski and Leroy Fer headed a goal back for Swansea late on.
The victory meant Leicester avoided becoming the first champions since Manchester United in 2007/08 to begin the defence of their title without winning any of their first three matches.
In the opening minute Shinji Okazaki stretched out a leg to reach Robert Huth’s flick-on froma Christian Fuchs long throw but was unable to get a telling contact to worry Fabianski.
Mahrez curled a free-kick over the sbar after Federico Fernandez had brought down Vardy on the edge of the area with a mis-timed sliding tackle that earned the Argentinian defender a 10th-minute yellow card.
Leicester enjoyed a period of pressure midway through the first half which saw Danny Drinkwater glance a header across the face of goal and a Vardy pull back from the byeline scrambled clear. Leicester were knocking on the door, but Swansea reminded them they were a threat on the break and Gylfi Sigurdsson twice worked Kasper Schmeichel either side of the half hour mark with shots from the edge of the box.
In the 32nd minute Leicester took the lead. Daniel Amartey tracked back to tackle and win the ball.
He played a one-two with Drinkwater just in front of his own area before playing a ball up to Mahrez, who cushioned a header to Drinkwater.
Then, as we saw many times last season, Drinkwater dropped a pass behind the Swansea defence for Vardy to chase. Vardy out-paced Jordi Amat and held him off before blast-ing a right-foot shot into the net via the inside of the near post.
Fabianski had to push away a fiercely-struck shot from Okazaki to prevent Leicester from going into half-time with a two-goal lead.
However, seven minutes after the restart it was 2-0. If the first goal was a thing of beauty, the second was sheer luck and about being in the right place at the right time.
Huth’s header from a corner ricocheted into the path of Morgan who simply hammered the ball home. Leicester should have extended their lead after 56 minutes when Amat brought down Okazaki inside the box but Mahrez’s penalty was brilliantly saved by Fabianski diving to his right.
An eventful start to the second half concluded with Schmeichel waving to the bench asking to be substituted. Summer signing Ron-Robert Zieler replaced the injured Dane.
He was beaten with nine minutes remaining when Fer brilliantly powered his header from Modou Barrow’s cross into the bottom corner of the net. Mahrez and substitute Ahmed Musa had late chances to restore Leicester’s two-goal lead but neither did.
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(Eden Hazard 9, Willian 41, Victor Moses 89)
At a third time of asking, Chelsea's latecomers have finally become early birds.
Last atop the English Premier League summit on May 24 last year - some 461 days prior - the Blues' re-emergence at the business end of the table is unlikely to be a fleeting one judging by the fashion in which Burnley were put to the sword at Stamford Bridge on Saturday night (Aug 27).
Neither is the current renaissance of Eden Hazard.
The sulks and struggles which characterised an underwhelming previous campaign for the Belgium winger appear to be a distant memory as he also turned back the clock.
Absence clearly made the heart grow fonder for Hazard after rebuilding his stock with a starring role in his country's run to the Euro 2016 quarter-finals earlier this summer.
Whether it was the change of manager or that he has re-focused following a season of needlessly fluttering his eyelashes at potential yet disinterested suitors, such as Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain, Hazard appears reborn for Chelsea this season.
His performance against Burnley was on par with those from his title-winning vintage of just two seasons prior.
A trademark run and drop of the shoulder saw him open the scoring in trademark fashion after just under 10 minutes.
A hat-trick could have been sewn up within an hour but for goalline clearances from Ben Mee and Tom Heaton's reflexes denying him the chance to take home a deserved match ball.
Now with six goals in his previous eight EPL games - two of them coming this season - the contrast with the combined six from 44 prior to that shows that Hazard's renaissance is unlikely to be a transient occurrence.
Antonio Conte's attempt to rouse the former champions, dethroned in a rapid and humiliating fashion less than 12 months ago, has also sparked fresh life into Stamford Bridge as a whole, with his side back revelling in their former glories last night.
That superiority may have only reigned for a brief few hours, but the confidence on show suggests the Chelsea of old have returned after an inglorious season-long hiatus.
But Conte will demand more from his rampant if not overly ruthless side.
Leaving it late in their opening two EPL games and a narrow League Cup victory over Bristol Rovers - two divisions beneath them - in midweek prompted the Italian to demand that his players killed off opponents in a far more emphatic and prompt fashion.
Mission accomplished on the scoreline yesterday, heading into the interval with a two-goal advantage, but addressing profligacy issues remains something of a work in progress.
John Terry, notably, blazed over, but it was the tribulations of Diego Costa who proved the greatest culprit in failing to fire.
Like Hazard, another esteemed member of the 2014/15 class, his own resurgence had boded well.
Countless opportunities presented themselves to the Spain international, courtesy of Hazard. Fluffing his lines, however, triumphed over finesse in prominent positions.
After a succession of last-minute goals had spared Chelsea's blushes against West Ham and Watford, Costa found himself back in the right place at right time but could not replicate his match-winning heroics.
This latest outing mirrored the struggles from the closing stages of last season, where he scored just once in five previous outings.
Conte, who introduced Michy Batshuayi in his place just 10 minutes from time, can only hope that Costa's form is still only temporary.